BRIDGWATER joined the rest of the country today in the biggest step yet in the post-Covid return to normality.
Across the UK some pubs have been trading since just after midnight and some traders opened their doors as early as 6am.
Although in no particular need of a haircut himself, Mayor of Bridgwater Leigh Redman was out and about seeing what’s open and talking to traders and shoppers.
First stop was the Engine Room Cafe which has several outdoor tables under a canopy and in the shade of a couple of trees and will be serving coffees, cakes, and lunches from 11am to 2pm with the situation being reviewed on May 17. The cafe is also the gateway to Somerset Film.
Wandering along the High street it was bumper-to-bumper traffic – but that’s just because the traffic lights at Westbow have been replaced with a temporary slower model while repairs to a water main have been going on and will continue the same until April 14.
Dropping into the Angel Place shopping centre, the Crafty Collective will be open from 10.30am to 3pm, Tuesday to Saturdays. Joint owners Sue and Sarah said: “Bridgwater is a little town with lots of small shops, we think that’s what people will want to come back to and that’s us. We’re 80% handmade or hand crafted products.”
Cafes have been booming and some, such as The Nutmeg at the back of the Avenue, have introduced Gazebos for their outdoor customers to shelter under to cater for the vagaries of the British weather. New owner Tina Jasinski said they’ll be opening 9am to 2.30pm daily and serving breakfasts and light lunches.
Across the road the queues for the barbers formed a guard of honour as the Mayor entered the Avenue and headed to the Cornhill.
Meanwhile there was already a queue developing at Cornhill Watches which will be open from 10am to 4pm through the week. Cornhill Records will be open from tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9am and thereafter.
Back outside the charming corner shop The Sweetbox had been trading throughout and will be continuing 8.30am to 4.30pm. (If you still haven’t got your Town Council ‘Tree Trail booklet’ that’s the place.)
The Fore Street area was a hub of shoppers, both Costa and Coffee Number One with seats outside were bursting at the socially distanced seams, while the charity shops were back as an essential service.
St Margarets Hospice shop will be open Monday and Thursday mornings. Further down the street the banks were still open as they had been throughout, as were WH Smiths, Boots and Superdrug.
A special welcome came from the Kempsofbridgwater where the doggie in the window will be ‘guarding’ the premises from 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday (although not Wednesdays). They’ve been already doing a roaring trade online and will arrange visits made via the web.
At the famous town bridge Jason’s Famous Burger Van is back in its place and will be open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm.
Along Binford Place, the Bridge Cafe now has a seating area outside, covered by the overhang canopy and was full of appreciative customers, plates full of cakes and cups full of coffees. They’ll be open Monday to Saturday 8.30am to 3pm and Sundays 10am to 2pm.
Further along the Quay the Coffee Cream was back in business with its popular terrace of tables looking onto the river front where regulars and passing bikers on this noted stopping point along the national cycle route can finally mix again over their enjoyable traditional breakfasts.
Next door the Green Olive’s owner Erdal was busy giving a wash down to the perspex partition walls of his popular restaurant, soon to be open again Mondays to Sundays for their delicious Mediterranean-themed meze lunches and dinners.
And further along the second hand record shop West Quay Records was back in business and will be opening 9am to 4pm every day but Sunday.
Cllr Redman said: “It’s great to be out and about and see so many shops opening for the first time in a while.
“I’m pleased to say that Bridgwater is back open for business and social distancing at the same time, but please follow the appropriate guidelines.”